Cronulla halfback Nicho Hynes is expected to be ruled out of Thursday night’s NRL top-four clash with Melbourne after testing positive to COVID-19.
Cronulla confirmed to AAP that Hynes returned a positive rapid antigen test on Wednesday morning after arriving at training.
He was immediately sent for a PCR test and will be sidelined for seven days if that confirms COVID-19.
Braydon Trindall is the man likely to step into the halves if Hynes is ruled out.
The absence of Hynes will be a big blow for Cronulla as coach Craig Fitzgibbon gears his side up for the toughest run of their season so far.
The Sharks sit fourth on the ladder and, as well as hosting Melbourne on Thursday, play other top-four sides North Queensland and Penrith in the following two weeks.
The three-game stretch will go a long way to determining Cronulla’s finals credentials and it helps that they will face a Storm team low on troops.
Craig Bellamy’s side will be without Queensland State of Origin duo Harry Grant and Cameron Munster plus injured pair Xavier Coates and Reimis Smith while Felise Kaufusi remains away on personal leave.
The Storm, who don’t make a habit of losing back-to-back games, got a rocket from Bellamy after last week’s loss to Manly when he labelled their effort as “soft”.
“It is a big challenge and I know they’re missing a couple of players but they’re still not all that understrength,” Fitzgibbon said.
“They’re a club that’s built on a system where if anyone leaves, someone else comes in and fulfils that role.
“Historically speaking they haven’t lost too many back-to-back.
“We’ve had to fight for those victories and teams have played well against us.
“We’ve got the right to be in the position we’re in but I have no illusions as to what’s coming up.”
Fitzgibbon was hopeful that New Zealand international Braden Hamlin-Uele would be back on deck to play the Storm after the prop tore a pectoral muscle in their previous clash with Melbourne earlier this year.